Heat vs Ice: which should you use for running injuries?

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Ice and heat are two of the most commonly used remedies for relieving pain caused by running injuries, but which one is best?

Ice

Ice is most effective for treating an acute injury in the first 48 hours after it occurs. An acute injury is one which happens suddenly such as a sprain, strain, bruise or fracture.

Ice helps to reduce inflammation, temporarily numbs pain and constricts blood flow to the affected area.

It’s recommended that ice is only applied for 20 minutes at a time, as over-icing an injury can cause further damage to nerves and tissue. Remember to protect the skin by placing a barrier between the ice and the affected area.

Ice treatments are best when combined with rest and elevation- try to raise the body part above your heart.

Heat

Heat therapy is recommended for chronic injuries- these are lingering aches and pains, such as sore muscles and stiff joints. Heat is also effective for conditions such as tension headaches, arthritis and muscle spasms.

Heat increases blood circulation to the damaged area which relaxes and soothes muscles. Again, the treatment should be used for no longer than 20 minutes at a time and should never be applied directly to the skin.

A reusable gel pack is worth keeping on hand incase injury strikes. I’ve been using the Multipurpose Reusable Compression Pack from GELPACKSDIRECT which can be heated or cooled to treat both acute and chronic injuries. The versatile elastic wrap will fit around any body part, holding the pack in place and providing compression. Simply prepare the pack for use by placing in the freezer for 2 hours or heating in the microwave for 30 seconds.

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I slipped over in the snow recently and injured my lower back, which was both embarrassing and incredibly painful! After landing flat on my back in the snow, the thought of applying more ice was not very appealing but I knew it would provide relief from the pain. I don’t always have a bag of peas in the freezer, but luckily I did have a frozen gel pack ready to go.

I suffer tight calf muscles as an ongoing issue, so I’ve been heating the pack for use on this area.The warmth is really relaxing and noticeably loosens my muscles, however I could do with another pack to target both calves at the same time. I find it helps to stretch whilst the heat is applied, so the strap does a great job of holding the pack in place whilst I’m performing my calf stretches.

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GELPACKSDIRECT have the Multipurpose Reusable Compression Pack for just £9.99 (usually £12.99) at the moment. If you’re an injury-prone runner like myself, then it’s definitely worth the investment.

This post is a collaboration with GELPACKSDIRECT.

Do you use ice or heat to treat your running injuries?

2 Comments

  1. April 28, 2018 / 4:42 pm

    I have some packs a bit like that which I keep in the freezer- sometimes I get a stiff lower back and I find that using ice when I stop is really helpful in reducing the pain.

  2. April 23, 2018 / 4:00 pm

    Oooh love the sound of this. big fan of anything injury recovery wise! Good advice about heat and ice.

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